Wayne’s Service Tips

Wayne’s Service Tips

Dryer Duct Cleaning
by Wayne TracywayneThe Consumer Products Safety Commission states that “Clothes dryers are associated with over 15,600 fires annually, resulting in 20 deaths and 370 injures”.  These fires caused over One Hundred Million Dollars in damage.

Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint is highly combustible and can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire.  Most dryer duct lines run between the walls and floors of a home and this fire can quickly spread through the rest of the home.  Even though dryers have built in high temperature limit switches they often fail and cannot be relied on to provide total protection.

Although clothes dryers have a lint trap, a significant amount of lint bypasses the trap and finds its way into the dryer and the dryer vent duct.  In as little as a year this lint can accumulate to levels that can significantly block the flow of air through the dryer and dryer duct. When you add the warm moist air being discharged into the dryer duct this further helps the lint to start plugging the dryer duct.

Plugged or partially plugged dryer vents can also result in increased operating costs with longer drying times.  This will also cause premature failure of components or the dryer.  Overheating can also cause unnecessary wear and tear on clothing, thus shorting their life.

In a recent independent study it was found that a load of 7 large bath towels in a dryer with 62.5% vent restriction took 60% more time to dry the same size load and used 77% more energy than the load without the restricted vent.

The following are steps the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends Homeowners should take to prevent dryer vent fires.

  • Clean the Lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes.  If clothing is still damp when removed after a normal dryer cycle or requires a much longer than normal dryer cycle, this may be a sign the dryer vent needs cleaning.
  • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct (hose connected to the dryer) periodically.  While the Consumer Product Safety Commission gives no recommendation as to cleaning frequency, most manufacturers recommend annual cleaning for the dryer to work at maximum efficiency. 
  • Check and clean the outside dryer vent exhaust for obstructions and make sure the flapper opens and closes properly.  If the flapper is not fully closing, birds and rodents can nest in the dryer vent line.
  • Clean behind and around the dryer where lint can build up.  Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of lint and clutter.
  • Replace old style flexible plastic/vinyl hose with corrugated or foil hose.  The plastic/vinyl hose is no longer allowed in most states and is not fireproof and can actually cause a fire to start and spread quicker.
  • The interior of  the dryer chassis should be cleaned by a qualified service person periodically.  Lint and debris will build up inside the dryer as well as in the dryer duct.

Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint is highly combustible and can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire.  Most dryer duct lines run between the walls and floors of a home and this fire can quickly spread through the rest of the home.  Even though dryers have built in high temperature limit switches they often fail and cannot be relied on to provide total protection.

Although clothes dryers have a lint trap, a significant amount of lint bypasses the trap and finds its way into the dryer and the dryer vent duct.  In as little as a year this lint can accumulate to levels that can significantly block the flow of air through the dryer and dryer duct. When you add the warm moist air being discharged into the dryer duct this further helps the lint to start plugging the dryer duct.

Plugged or partially plugged dryer vents can also result in increased operating costs with longer drying times.  This will also cause premature failure of components or the dryer.  Overheating can also cause unnecessary wear and tear on clothing, thus shorting their life.

In a recent independent study it was found that a load of 7 large bath towels in a dryer with 62.5% vent restriction took 60% more time to dry the same size load and used 77% more energy than the load without the restricted vent.

The following are steps the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends Homeowners should take to prevent dryer vent fires.

  • Clean the Lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes.  If clothing is still damp when removed after a normal dryer cycle or requires a much longer than normal dryer cycle, this may be a sign the dryer vent needs cleaning.
  • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct (hose connected to the dryer) periodically.  While the Consumer Product Safety Commission gives no recommendation as to cleaning frequency, most manufacturers recommend annual cleaning for the dryer to work at maximum efficiency.
  • Check and clean the outside dryer vent exhaust for obstructions and make sure the flapper opens and closes properly.  If the flapper is not fully closing, birds and rodents can nest in the dryer vent line.
  • Clean behind and around the dryer where lint can build up.  Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of lint and clutter.
  • Replace old style flexible plastic/vinyl hose with corrugated or foil hose.  The plastic/vinyl hose is no longer allowed in most states and is not fireproof and can actually cause a fire to start and spread quicker.
  • The interior of  the dryer chassis should be cleaned by a qualified service person periodically.  Lint and debris will build up inside the dryer as well as in the dryer duct.

Mold

Molds (along with the broader term fungi) are living organisms that live on plant or animal matter. Molds produce microscopic spores, reproductive bodies similar to seeds, that are very light and travel through the air. With the right conditions, these spores reproduce quickly (often within 24-48 hours) to create more colonies of mold.

Mold can grow on almost any surface and only requires dampness and a source of food to thrive. The nutrients required to sustain mold are plentiful and include dust, paper, ceiling tiles, cardboard, and wood. Materials that support mold growth will eventually be consumed and destroyed if the mold is allowed to grow unabated.

Estimates place the number of mold species at between 50,000 and 250,000. Over 1,000 different kinds of molds have been found in U.S. homes. Some strains of mold can cause more serious problems with building occupants. These include Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys. Because of the severe reactions people can have from these molds, they are often labeled “toxic mold”.

There is no reliable way to visually tell what type of mold may be in a building. Samples need to taken by a professional and sent to a laboratory. It is often wise, then, to treat all molds with some level of caution and concern.

According to the CDC, “it is not known what quantity of mold is acceptable in indoor environments with respect to health”. A common rule of thumb, therefore, is that if you can see or smell mold (often described as a “musty” odor) inside a building, then there is too much.

It is impractical to completely eliminate all mold spores from our environment. Home owners should concentrate on eliminating water sources, removing mold colonies when discovered, and inhibiting a spores’ ability to reproduce in their building.

All Duct Cleaners Are NOT Equal

In today’s market, it is once again “Buyer Beware”. Air duct cleaning is being advertised starting at $49.99 for “whole house cleaning”. Unfortunately, the average consumer has no idea what air duct cleaning should include. At $49.00, the technician is untrained in air quality, using equipment designed for another purpose that has been retrofitted to resemble air duct cleaning equipment, and an extra service is required to complete the job at an additional charge.

Proper air duct cleaning requires source removal, according to the tenets of NADCA ( the National Air Duct Cleaners Association). This requires the ducts be scrubbed as well as vacuumed, all the way through the system. This can be accomplished using rotary brushes, compressed air nozzles or manual scrubbing in conjunction with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) vacuum. When this is completed, an antimicrobial may be applied to address any of the cold germs,  mold spores, valley fever spores, dust mites and other bacteria commonly found in ductwork. As this work is completed, all ductwork should be checked for obvious leakage: the State of AZ estimates that 15%-20% of energy costs can be attributed to duct leakage! When leaks are located they should be sealed according to industry standards. Finally, the AC coils should be acid washed, the heater cleaned, the drain line and drip pan serviced. NO ONE can do this for $49.00!